SWAT Team Honored For Raid On Wrong House

By Caroline Lowe
Jul. 31, 2008

Video here MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) ― On Monday, Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan handed out honors to a team of officers involved in a botched raid at an innocent family's home more than seven months ago. The family is upset and their attorney criticizes the awards and questions the timing.

Just days before Christmas, the sound of intruders breaking into their home in North Minneapolis prompted Vang Khang to grab his shotgun to protect his six children. His terrified wife called 911.

Khang fired several shots at the "intruders" who turned out to be members of the Minneapolis Police Department's SWAT team. The officers returned fire. Their protective gear prevented them from being harmed by the bullets.

No one was hurt in the shootout last Dec. 16 and the Minneapolis Police Chief ordered an internal investigation. The house was left riddled with bullet holes and broken glass. Two days later, Dolan apologized to the family and launched an internal investigation to find out how the SWAT team wound up in an innocent family's house in the middle of the night.

The investigation determined that the team had gone there looking for a gang member's guns after an informant gave investigators in the department's Violent Offenders Task Force bad information. The investigation is ongoing.

On Monday, Dolan recognized members of the SWAT team for their bravery and how they handled the raid. With Mayor R.T. Rybak and other city officials looking on, the chief handed out medals and commendations.

"The easy decision would have been to retreat under covering fire. The team did not take the easy way out," Dolan told the crowd. "This is a perfect example of a situation that could have gone horribly wrong, but did not because of the professionalism with which it was handled."

The Khang family was upset when they learned of the awards given to the SWAT team.

"They were outraged and they were hurt. They were hurt. To this day this family continues to suffer," said their attorney, former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger.

Heffelfinger said the family has notified the city that they plan to file a lawsuit over the botched raid. He questions the timing and motives for the award.

"Why now are we seeing the police department honoring these men? In this context, I'm convinced this is an effort on the part of the police leadership to sanitize the conduct of their officers on December 16," he said.

"The officers put themselves in harm's way. They were shot at and shot and deserved to be recognized," said Dolan in a statement defending the awards to the SWAT team.

Dolan said an internal investigation conducted by his staff cleared the conduct of the SWAT officers who raided the Khang home.

More than seven months later, the internal review has not finished looking into how the officers and supervisors in the Violent Offenders' Task Force handled the investigative piece of the case which preceded the raid at the Khang home. So far, no one has been disciplined in connection with the mistaken raid.

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